Beginner Series: Nitro vs Electric

Welcome to the first of many posts, about helping new comers or beginners decide which type of RC Car is best for them. This series will also include a bunch of other tips and tricks that all RC Car drivers won't want to miss! 

Today we are going to start at the first basic question you will want to ask yourself. Should I buy an electric or nitro car? 

To start off we are going to make a list of things you should know about each type. You can then, look at this list and decide which one sounds like a good fit for you. 


  1. These cars are powered by a rechargeable battery. 
  2. Lower maintenance compared to Nitro Cars.
  3. You can run this indoors. 
  4. Cleaner than Nitro Cars, and don't need engine tuning. 
  5. Typically cheaper to run. 
  6. These cars are much quieter and practically silent compared to Nitro Cars. 
  7. Electric Cars are much faster then Nitro cars with upgrades. Typically Ready to Run (RTR) models are stocked with basic parts that are mostly plastic. However, if you are serious into racing you have options to upgrade to higher performing parts and metal parts that are more durable. 60+ mph here we come! Don't be scared of the investment though, a lot of the expensive items are a one time purchase and then you can use them in almost any electric car you buy going forward! They also last a long time, if you take care of it! 


  1. Nitro cars are powered by fuel. 
  2. If you love the smell of fuel, the sound of a loud engine, and exhaust fumes filling the air, then you will love what nitro has to offer! 
  3. This type of car can be ran for a longer duration of time compared to electric. With Nitro, once your car runs out of fuel, you simply fill it back up and keep running! You don't have to wait for a battery to recharge! 
  4. You can only run Nitro cars outside, running them inside will result in a lot of the toxic exhaust fumes overpowering clean air for breathing. 
  5. Requires more maintenance and mechanic work.  
  6. If you want to race, you are going to have to have a pit person, who can refuel your car mid race. 

Summary from Beginning RC

  Nitro Electric
Speed, RTR  Very Good  Fair
Speed, upgraded  Great Great
Acceleration Very Good  Great
Power band RPM-happy Torquey
Ease of starting out  Medium Easy
Maintenance Can be difficult Medium
Initial purchase cost High Low
Long-term cost  Medium Low to Very High, depending upon how fast you want to go 
Sound level  Loud Quiet
Driving environments Almost exclusively outdoors Indoors or out, but nothing wet 
Key strengths  Fast out of the box, realistic sound, long runtimes Easy to get started with, clean, quiet 
Key weaknesses  Loud, messy, tuning can be difficult  Batteries take time to charge, upgrading to go very fast can be very expensive



Sources: RC Web Car, Beginner RC Cars how to choose the best, ( 2016). 

Beginning RC, General Buying Decisions: Nitro vs Electric

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